Please Pray for the Soul of Mary Margaret Vojtko

The shameful treatment of adjunct instructors and professors is well known. Here’s a particularly bad example.

On the whole, I don’t like today’s unions. But in the case of adjuncts, it’s true that universities do exploit their workers.

Of course, there are ways to bridge such gaps, particularly if someone had been working for the place so very long. This woman could have been given additional posts (like being an RA/house mother), or the university community could have dealt with the matter pastorally with simple charity (there were probably profs, students, and staff who could have given her a temporary home, raised funds for her, helped repair her house, etc.). But they didn’t do either; and they didn’t do anything formal or informal for her when she lost her job with the university.

And neither did the Union guys, for that matter. This guy seemed to have been in the act of trying, but maybe not enough.

Activism and costcutting are both all very well; but sometimes you have to be the one to put out a a donation jar, or give someone a bed and a ride to work.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Please Pray for the Soul of Mary Margaret Vojtko

  1. RJ

    “Neither did the Union guys”? Did you also miss the part about the “union guy” (the author) calling the case worker and writing multiple letters to Duquesne? Did you know he also filed a lawsuit against the university in her behalf? Or that he wrote this article in order to call atttention to her exploitation and the exploitation of thousands of other adjuncts across the country? Did you miss the part of the article that explained that the USW represents the adjuncts, who voted overwhelming to form a union, and Duquesne Univ. refused to acknowledge their union? Your anti-union bias is so strong that it’s interfering with your reading comprehension skills.

    • Helping someone with letters and complaints is different from helping someone with a bed or a couch in somebody’s place. They’re both helpful; but the latter would have kept the woman from dying alone like a dog.

      Of course, if anybody had known the situation was bad to the point of death, I’m sure that somebody who knew her would have taken her in, including the union guy.

      But at the time she got to the point of sleeping in her office, surely it had become obvious to anyone paying attention that she needed a place to stay as the immediate solution to the maintenance problems, and _then_ other measures also to get her back living in her home safely. Unless the article is covering up some kind of scary drugs or mental illness in the lady, it’s difficult to see how this didn’t occur. A little old lady is not a roommate or tenant that most people would fear having around. And yes, I’m sure she may have stubbornly independent, but Pittsburgh is a big city full of people who have couches and extra beds, and stubbornness works both ways.

      Activism-charity and alms-charity both have their place. But sometimes people also, or instead, need personal charity that has skin in the game. It’s the simplest, cheapest kind, but it’s the kind that exposes us to each other the most. Why didn’t anybody just have her over to stay?

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